Do you remember the advertising slogan, “It’s not your father’s car anymore?” Never mind that the “not your father’s” tagline has been co-opted countless times since its inception, it was originally employed by General Motors’ Oldsmobile brand.
There’s some dispute as to whether the saying was first used in the late 1960s to tout Oldsmobile’s version of the muscle car – the 442 – or two decades later, but there’s no dispute that Oldsmobile – once the No. 3-selling brand in the United States – is no longer cranking out vehicles, for dads or for anyone else.
Oldsmobile is hardly alone. The U.S. industry is down to just a handful of brands and the purging of the industry is far from over. Which raises the question: Is automobile brand loyalty, once something shared by many generations in some families, dead?
There are certain factors that tend to appear on succeeding branches of a family tree – like political leanings and church affiliation, for example. Many families pass occupations to the next generation and others hand off their automobile preferences.
As I was growing up, you were either a Chevrolet person or a Ford person. It was a seismic shift when my Dad went from General Motors products to Ford products. Like many others of his generation, he refuses to buy a foreign-made vehicle.
But what to do, now that so many U.S. brands have bit the dust? To read about one family’s decades-long relationship with the Ford Motor Company, check out Design Milk.
Keep in mind, too, that America’s fascination with motorcars is only about 100 years old. That’s a relatively short period in anyone’s family history. As unlikely as it may seem today, it’s possible that your great-great-grandchildren will be as unfamiliar with Fords and Chevies as you are with the great buggy makers of the 19th century.
Writing prompt of the day: Write about your family’s preferences in motor vehicles over the past 100 years.
Photo: Jack Lehmer rests on the running board of his family's car in 1941. (Walter B. Lehmer collection).